Love is in the air . . . love of romance books, that is. This week, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced the finalists for the 2014 RITA and Golden Heart Awards. A big congratulations goes to our very own romance columnist, Christie Ridgway, whose Beach House No. 9 is up for a Best Contemporary Romance RITA! Check out our interview with Christie about the book.
Other RITA finalists include veterans Jill Shalvis (nominated twice, for It Had to Be You and Rumor Has It), Nora Roberts (for Whiskey Beach), Elizabeth Hoyt (for Duke of Midnight), along with relative newcomers Sarah MacLean (for No Good Duke Goes Unpunished) and Bella Andre (for The Way You Look Tonight).
The Golden Heart Awards recognize excellence in novels or novellas that have not yet been published, with finalists in eight categories chosen from more than 1,000 manuscript entries each year.
Check out the complete list of finalists here. Winners will be announced at a black-tie gala at the RWA annual conference in San Antonio on July 26. Which books are you rooting for?
After a nearly 20-year career and millions of books in print, best-selling romance author Brenda Jackson has reached an impressive milestone with the publication of her latest novel, A Madaris Bride for Christmas—her 100th book!
Back in 1994, Jackson's first novel, Tonight and Forever, introduced the Madaris family. Matchmaking matriarch Mama Laverne has helped the Madaris men and women find everlasting love over the years, delighting and entertaining countless readers along the way. In A Madaris Bride for Christmas, Lee Madaris, one of Mama's grandsons and owner of one of the hottest hotels in Vegas, is determined to find a woman on his own, and has his sights set on pastry chef Carly Briggs.
With memorable characters, lots of sizzle and a few twists and turns, A Madaris Bride for Christmas is sure to satisfy fans of the series, hook some news ones and leave all readers looking forward to Jackson's 101st novel.
You are likely already aware that it's First Fiction Month here at BookPage—a month-long celebration of debut novels . . . and their authors, of course! One such author is Jennifer McQuiston, whose debut—What Happens in Scotland, a historical romance—was published earlier this year.
In this fabulous guest post, Jennifer discusses her fascinating path to becoming a romance writer and her experience of being a first-time author—although, with her second book (Summer Is for Lovers) coming out next month and her third (Moonlight on My Mind) in April, she's actually well on her way to becoming a veteran!
I didn’t always want to be an author.
There. I said it. And the lights just flickered above my head, suggesting I have upset some delicate balance of literary fate. After all, don’t authors emerge from the womb knowing not only who they are, but also what they want to write?
Nope. Not me. A veterinarian and a scientist by training, I work for the federal government tracking infectious disease outbreaks around the globe. Reading has always been a way for me to escape the pressures of work, or a treat to savor on those rare vacations. I have always enjoyed reading historical romance, but about five years ago I realized I was beginning to search for stories that were a bit different. Grittier. Less dukes and dancing, more cholera and syphilis. At some point, I began to realize those stories were in my head, and began toying with the idea to write a novel.
My earliest attempts to craft said “gritty romance novel” failed on several levels. My scientific training ensured I understood everything there was to know about cholera, but I knew nothing about craft. I tried again, feeling my way blindly to a voice that was uniquely mine but did not require translation for a lay audience. Writing became less of a pastime and more of an obsession. I set my clock for 4 a.m. every morning for a slog in front of the laptop before the real day job started. Each time I woke up to that insistent alarm, I learned a little better how to tune out my internal scientist, and how to become . . . gasp . . . an author.
What Happens in Scotland is my first published novel, but it was my fifth completed manuscript, a testament to just how long I slogged. Be forewarned: there is no cholera in this story. It isn’t even that gritty, although it features a chamber pot and a few raw edges to the plot. But it is still, irrevocably, me. My voice, my vision, my eccentricity. I knew it was special from the moment I started writing it, but I don’t think I realized how truly different it was until the reviews started rolling in. It is a book that has engendered some strong opinions among readers and reviewers, namely because it breaks a few of what are considered “standard rules of romance.” Not everyone loves the fact that I keep the hero and heroine apart for half the book searching for each other, but others have praised that difference. Some dislike the fact it takes place over a 24-hour period, while others welcome the change in pace. It contains a little too much physical humor for readers looking for lilting prose, but others claim the humor is their favorite part of the writing.
The truth is, there is no one way to write—or read—a book. I feel remarkably privileged that my publisher, Avon/Harper Collins, believed in me enough to not only take a risk on a different sort of book, but to make me a multi-published author.
Last month, BookPage Managing Editor Trisha and I ventured down to nearby Atlanta to stop by the annual Romance Writers of America conference. It was my first RWA conference, and boy was it fun. Everyone was so warm, welcoming, positive and supportive.
But it wasn't just all fun and games. Before the glitzy glam of the parties, there was work to be done—though that "work" consisted of getting to chat with some of the hottest romance writers around, including Mary Jo Putney, Robyn Carr, Sarah MacLean, Elizabeth Hoyt and our very own romance columnist, Christie Ridgway. When they weren't giving or attending seminars or autographing books or catching up with each other, these gracious authors spent a few minutes chatting with us. We asked them all the same questions and then edited their responses into these five super snappy, entertaining videos. Enjoy!
What was the first romance you ever read?
What's special about romance readers?
What advice would you give an aspiring romance writer?
What is your favorite romance of all time?
And, finally, the most important, juiciest question of all:
Duke, vampire, Navy SEAL or cowboy?
We'd love to hear what your favorite romance novel is—and, of course, what type of romantic hero you fancy. Chime in below!
You already know that it's First Fiction Month here on The Book Case, but were you aware that August is also Read-a-Romance Month?
Each day during August, three romance writers are sharing their thoughts on why romance matters over on the R-A-R site. We're talking big-time romance authors, like Jill Shalvis, Julia London, Mary Jo Putney, Robyn Carr and so, so many more. To see the complete list of authors, as well as a calendar of when their posts are scheduled, click here.
So far, Susan Mallery has written about being both a romance writer and a feminist. Barbara Delinksy has shared how she discovered romance, and Gena Showalter let us know the numerous reasons she loves romance. Whether you're a romance fan or not, the authors' sincere affection for romance is simply infectious.
While Bella Andre's path to becoming one of the hottest romance writers around can be likened to a Cinderella-like tale, it doesn't feature a Prince Charming coming to her rescue. No, Andre's success has been the result of her own persistence and hard work.
After Andre's self-published series of e-book romances chronicling the Sullivan family sold more than a million copies and hit multiple best-seller lists, Harlequin snatched her up with a seven-figure deal to publish print editions of the wildly popular books, the first of which hit shelves last month.
In this guest blog post, Andre describes her unique and exhilarating journey.
I am both a romance writer and a voracious romance reader! In fact, I'll read a book a day when I can. I've always loved to read connected family series like Julia Quinn's Bridgertons and Stephanie Lauren's Cynsters, because it's so much fun to watch the family members each get their happily-ever-afters—especially when their siblings and parents are in the books, as well. That's why, two years ago, I decided to take the plunge and write my own connected series about the Sullivan family. Each of the eight Sullivan siblings has a unique career (photographer, winery owner, firefighter, librarian, auto shop mogul, pro baseball player and choreographer) and outlook on life, but one thing they all have in common is that they're always there for each other, no matter what.
When I decided to self-publish my stories about the Sullivans as e-books, self-publishing was fairly new at that point, and it was very exciting to watch as more than 1.5 million readers discovered my digital books! In the past two years, nearly all of my Sullivan e-books have hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists—and now, after signing a groundbreaking print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA—the Sullivan series is being released in paperback in extended English language editions all over the world!
I'm beyond thrilled that From This Moment On is now out in paperback. Though I could never pick a favorite Sullivan, I have to admit that Marcus definitely vies for one of the top spots in my heart.
Marcus is the oldest Sullivan sibling, and after his father died when he was 14, he helped his mother raise his seven brothers and sisters. The owner of Sullivan Winery in Napa Valley, Marcus has always put his family first—but now it's finally time for him to find his own happiness. Only, he never thought a pop star would be the one to make his heart race from the moment he set eyes on her. . . .
The first book in the Sullivan series, The Look of Love, is already on bookshelves everywhere, and the third book in the series, Can't Help Falling in Love, will be released in paperback on July 31. I hope you enjoy getting to know my Sullivans and that you fall for Marcus Sullivan as hard as I did!
Thanks so much, Bella!
So, who's intrigued about this Marcus guy? Do you plan on getting to know him and the rest of the Sullivans? To learn more, visit Andre's website.
In her new Thunder Point series, Robyn Carr—the best-selling author of more than 40 novels—whisks readers away to a picturesque small town on the gorgeously rugged Oregon coast.
The Wanderer (MIRA, April 2013) introduces Hank Cooper, who finds himself in Thunder Point after the death of an old army buddy. Will the allure of the town's stunning natural beauty and the charm of its inhabitants—particularly those of Sarah Dupre—calm Hank's restless spirit enough for him to settle down there?
There are additional townsfolk to meet in the next two books in the series, like deputy sheriff Mac McCain in The Newcomer (coming in July) and single mother Devon McAllister in The Hero (September).
In this guest blog post, Carr shares a little about her creative process, leaving us thinking that she just might have one of the coolest jobs around.
I’m a happily married woman. For more years than you’d believe. But that hasn’t kept me from meeting, getting to know and falling in love with fascinating, good hearted, strong and handsome men. In my head, of course. But hey, the inside of my head is a fun place for me to hang out. And I get to know these men better than anyone else ever will.
A couple of years ago I stumbled onto Hank Cooper, known just as Cooper. He was a pretty ordinary guy. He served in the military, then worked as a civilian helicopter pilot. He moved around a lot, thanks to his job. His needs were pretty simple; no one depended on him. He’d had some girlfriends, but since things never got quite serious enough for the long term, he assumed he was meant to live a fairly solitary life. He wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and he’d always been able to enjoy life.
Then an odd twist of fate sent him to Thunder Point, where he made a good friend in the first hour he was there. I stood witness as he learned a few things about the town—that these ordinary people worked hard and lived honest, earnest lives, that one good turn deserved another, that they liked to laugh, they took friendship seriously and no one really had to make it alone, not if they made Thunder Point their home and did all they could to be a good neighbor.
Then I watched him fall in love. Oh yes. And even though he’s mine, I’m a givin’ woman and want only the best for him. And Sarah is indeed the best—his match in every way. And while Cooper would never have admitted to being lonely, once he got to know her, he realized there had been something crucial missing from his life. Sarah made him forget that. And since Sarah was lonely, too, it was not only a good match, but also one filled with laughter, passion, honesty and, despite their fears, a longing for commitment. While I typed, my wandering Cooper transitioned into the newest resident of Thunder Point and found a home he never knew he craved.
But Cooper’s journey was just beginning in The Newcomer. His relationship with Sarah was evolving. His friendships with Mac, the town deputy sheriff, and Gina, Mac’s long-time love, were growing complicated. Mac’s ex-wife turned up, looking for a reconciliation, and Gina’s teenage daughter struggled with a bittersweet romance. Cooper is surprised to learn he has much to offer by way of support. Cooper’s new town is stretched thin by challenges to his favorite people.
But Cooper surprises himself—he is completely unafraid of this deep involvement, though he’s never experienced it before. And his world is expanding, including even more commitments. He has everything he wants in life, even a life that suddenly produces more people counting on him than ever before. But he turned out to be a man improved rather than burdened by the needs of his friends.
I think you’re going to like this new town, this Thunder Point. It’s never dull, it’s never easy, it’s never predictable. But don’t worry, the people there are up to the job.
Welcome to Thunder Point. I hope you packed your dreams.
The countdown is on for the 2013 RITA Awards—given out by the Romance Writers of America (RWA). During the lead-up to the glamorous July 20 award gala in Atlanta, romance fans have the opportunity to meet each other and interact with the nominated authors through a series of weekly online Q&A events.
Each video chat get-together is devoted to a particular award category—such as Best First Book, Best Historical Romance and Best Paranormal Romance—and completely free. But space is limited to 1,000 participants, so secure your spot(s) soon! The first chat is next Thursday, April 18.
Visit the RWA site to see the full schedule and make a reservation.
What was your favorite romance this year? Is it a RITA finalist?